I don’t want to say that I’m a trespasser because I’m not, but on the rare occasion, I’ll find an old building or a mysterious house and of course, my curiosity gets the best of me and I have to go investigate. As the saying goes, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.” Not very many people know about the second part of that phrase, but it’s one of the phrases that directs my life. So my story starts on a hazy August afternoon, I was riding my bike down a new dirt path, when I came upon an old Victorian era style house that had fallen into disrepair. It was obvious that no one had lived there for a very long time. There were broken windows, the yard was more of a jungle, and the fence was falling apart faster than a Nature Valley granola bar. I rode up the driveway, determined to see every inch of this place I could. Starting in the front I walked up the large porch and let out a small screech as a small family of mice darted across my feet on my way to the front door. I decided instead to start in the backyard. I walked around the side of the house, admiring the tall gables, and long thin windows. When I came around the back side of the house, the first thing I noticed was an overturned birdbath. The pedestal was lying on its side, and the basin of the bird bath was overturned about half a foot away from where the stand was. I went and turned the gleaming white marble pedestal to its original position, but when I tried to lift the basin, I found it to be too heavy. I searched for a moment for something to use as a lever to turn it over. I found a large tree branch and wedged it under an edge of the basin and gave it a forceful push upwards. It seemed to have worked, but my excitement was short-lived because a large beast of gray and black fur leapt right at my throat! I screamed and ran from the raccoon that had been freed from its marble prison. I didn’t stop running until I made it to my bike, and even then I didn’t stop. Possibly haunted houses? Sure. Angry raccoons that had been trapped underneath a birdbath? NO WAY!
On more than one occasion, I’m sure you’ve heard the term urban, so what does it mean? The definition of urban says “relating to, or characteristic of a city or town” So now I want to present an idea to you, the readers. One that you may be unfamiliar with. Urban Wildlife. Maybe you’ve heard this term before, maybe you haven’t. But I’m here to talk a little about what urban wildlife is, and how it affects you. Urban wildlife can be found anywhere that supports human life. Just in case you aren’t sure what some good examples are, raccoons, rats, pigeons, mice, and squirrels could all be considered urban wildlife. Think about how often you’ve seen raccoons digging through the dumpster in a back alley, or a squirrel snitching some food off of the ground in front of a trendy food truck. Many people wouldn’t consider this wildlife, in fact, to many people they are simply vermin. You even see animals like deer attempting to cross a busy road, so now I’ve got you thinking, what has this got to do with me? Well, pal, I’ve got news for you, you play a major part in this whole urban wildlife mess.
An increase in the number of wildlife encounters you have could come from a number of factors. A few of those reasons could be habitat loss, noise or light pollution, pollution, or invasive species. This could mean you run into more less than friendly faces while you’re out and about during the day. Fortunately, there are ways you can help minimize the damage this might cause. You can start by locking all of your outdoor garbage cans. This might not seem like a large thing, but having a source for food could draw more unwanted pests. You should also regularly dispose of fallen fruit, use spill-proof birdfeeders, and keep your pets indoors at night. This will do a lot to protect your property. Remember, most of these animals have adapted to be able to handle human encounters, so don’t be afraid to call for extra back up from trained professionals if things get out of hand.
People always assume that the sight of a rat means filth. They couldn’t be more wrong. Some of the most common things that people have problems with when it comes to rats are as follows: They don’t like the look of the tail, they carry diseases, they are aggressive and mean, or they are dirty animals. Although rats can be harmful in certain situations, they are often friendly, shy creatures who are just trying to fit in.
For people who find themselves repulsed by a rats tail, they are there for more than just looks. A rats tail is actually an evolutionary trait that assists in balance. It also works as a personal cooling system, allowing heat out, or constricting to preserve body heat when it gets cold.
Another common misconception is that rats carry deadly diseases. Of course, everyone always mentions the bubonic plague when speaking ill of rats. When in reality, the rats weren’t the cause of the bubonic plague. It was actually a breed of fleas who began the outbreak, they rode on the fur of the rats, and due to the unhygienic times, the disease spread rapidly. Luckily, because we have come so far as a society, we have become a lot more hygienic. Therefore, our chances of contracting that kind of disease are not as likely.
So when people find themselves saying that rats are disgusting, filthy creatures. It’s not that they’re awful people who don’t know what they’re talking about, they’re just uneducated. Of course, rats are still wild animals and deserve respect. So remember that even though they most likely will leave you alone, they still have a fight or flight reaction much like ours. It’s up to us to be smart about how we react with wild animals to make the world a better place for all of us.
There are very few things I can think of that are worse than finding a dead animal in your yard. Animals are riddled with diseases and they can stink up an area in no time! When animals die, it is extremely important to get them taken care of as soon as possible! Failure to take care of a dead animal can lead to disastrous consequences! The scent of a dead animal can lead to other dangerous predators making their way into your yard. The last thing any of us want is to have dangerous animals hanging around our homes.
Dead animals can be carriers for a great plethora of diseases. Diseases such as rabies, bubonic plague, and West Nile encephalitis have all been found on dead animals of all breeds. Even though we may have treatments for diseases like these, would you ever want to take the chance? Now that we’ve gone over a few of the dangers that dead animals can pose when they’ve been found on your property, let’s talk about the best way to take care of them.
There are several courses of action that could be taken to remove dead animals. The first would be to call the state health and safety department, this will ensure that they dispose of the carcass in a safe manner. Another way (depending on the size of the animal) would be trash disposal. For many, this is the preferred method. Using a shovel and gloves, carefully place the dead animal in a garbage bag. It is often easier if you “double-wrap” the dead animal. You can then place the animal in the garbage cans or dumpsters in your neighborhood. The final option, and probably best way, is to call a local exterminator or trapper. They will take care of the mess for you and ensure that the animal is disposed of properly. They may also offer cleaning and sanitizing services depending on the situation.
Please remember that if you are going to take care of the body on your own, WEAR GLOVES! It is extremely important that you wash your hands, wear gloves, and avoid touching the animal at all costs. Even though the animal is dead, the bacteria and viruses that the animal carried can still be a threat to you and your health. Make sure that the tools you use to dispose of the animal are properly cleaned after the removal takes place. Take care to clean the clothes you were wearing when disposing of the animal, just as a precaution.
As most people know, raccoons are some the smartest, most cunning animals in the world. Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say smart I suppose, but they are extremely determined and it takes a lot to throw them off their prize. A good example of this is what happened to me in the spring of 2012, the beginning of the summer was fairly uneventful. But once the days got hotter and longer things began to take a turn for the worst. It started with just a few mishaps. In fact, I hardly would have noticed them at all if my visiting daughter hadn’t brought it up.
It all started when my daughter came down to stay with us a few days. After the first night she came downstairs in the morning complaining about the scratching and sounds she had heard in the walls all night. I was confused, I’d never heard any sounds like that. I assured her that I would spend the night in the upstairs room to make sure that there weren’t any sounds. Well needless to say, I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night! You could hear the little buggers crawling all over the place! The first thing I did the next morning was call up a professional trapper to come take care of our problem.
Well, after thoroughly checking out our house, the coon connoisseur found several entrances that the raccoons could be using. He set up cameras that would tell us which entrances the raccoons were using so that we could get them sealed. We had to endure another couple days of those dirty fur balls running around in our walls before we could check the entrances. When the day finally came for us to unveil the secret entrances those little bandits were using I could hardly contain my excitement! I was beyond ready to get rid of this problem. When the trapper got there, we crowded around his little video camera to see what the verdict was. And you’ll never believe it…
Not a single raccoon went in or out any of the entrances that we had been surveying. We were all in awe. How did the raccoons get in the house? It wasn’t like they could just walk in the front door! We sat around and talked for a while trying to brainstorm ideas of how the raccoons were getting in. We were onto the idea of them tunneling underneath the house when we heard a large crash coming from the upstairs bedroom. We rushed up the stairs to see what had caused the commotion, and there frantically running around the room was one of the raccoons!
After several minutes of frantic screaming and chasing, we finally had the raccoon subdued. The exterminator laughed when he realized that the raccoons had been getting in through the window that my daughter opened at night. Once they had entered the house, they found their way to the attic where they begun to wreak their havoc.
My momma always told me to beware of the people. After all, to them we were considered vermin. We lived in their walls, floors, and underneath their homes. Most of the time they don’t notice us until it’s too late. People use the term “multiply like bunnies” but, they should use the term “multiply like rats”. The average size of a rat litter is between six and thirteen. And each momma rat can have a litter a month! Where there’s one, there’s more. But I’m not here to talk about our incredible reproduction skills. I’m here to tell you a story from my grandrats time. A time before PETA and any rats rights activists.
When my grandrat was young, he and his friends used to have competitions to see who could get the closest to humans without getting killed. He lost many of his best friends to this game. In fact, that’s how he lost his best rat friend. But, no matter how often his friends got caught, or how many of his pals lost their lives, they kept playing. My grandrat and his friends would migrate all over the country looking for new victims to play their dangerous game on. One man in particular was named Sam Oldman. He was notoriously ruthless towards rats. The legend was that when he caught and killed a rat he would cut their tails off and use them to make designer handbags for women. Here’s the catch, no rat that ventured into his house came out alive. This made it the ultimate challenge for my grandrat and his friends.
The day that they designated to venture into Mr. Oldman’s house was none other than Friday the thirteenth in October. It’s really the worst possible day don’t you think? Like the most unlucky day of the year. Of course just to make it all better, the weather was stereotypically bad, like stereotypical horror movie bad. The moon was full and the sun had just set. So it really was the worst possible scenario any rat could imagine. My grandrat and his friends found a loose window and were able to wiggle their way in from there. When they entered the house. What they found was worse than any horror movie scene any rat could dream of. What happened in that house will never be known. The happenings that night were so horrific it caused my grandrat to go mute. My grandrat is the only one who made it out of that house alive that night. But even he didn’t get out in one piece, because in Sam Oldman’s house, my grand rat lost his tail.
There’s nothing in this world that I hate more than snakes. I don’t care if they are outside, inside, in a cage at the zoo, or on someone’s arm. I DETEST THEM! They are disgusting and scary and potentially harmful! Now as a young homeowner, having a snake infestation is the very thing my nightmares are made of. Imagine if you hated snakes as much as I do. Now imagine how you would feel if one day you went out to enjoy your backyard to find a nest of snakes. Well this my friends is where my story starts.
I had just walked outside with my ice cold glass of lemonade, I was planning on spending a few hours in my backyard trying to unwind after a long day in the office. I had just settled into my lawn chair when I saw it. The snake. About two feet long and as thick as a glue stick. It was slithering through the grass just a few feet in front of me! I sat paralyzed for quite some time. I couldn’t believe my eyes! There it was. My worst fear come to life. I came to my senses and abruptly stood up, dropping my glass of lemonade as I stood. My glass shattered on to the ground, ice cubes and broken glass littered the ground. I didn’t care, I booked it inside as fast as my legs could take me.
After I had come to my senses and recovered from the initial trauma, I ventured out of my hiding place in the bathtub. I carefully crept up to the back door to see if my new little reptilian friend was still there. There he was, in exactly the same spot he was in before. I was just about to turn away when I saw it out of the corner of my eye. Another one. TWO SNAKES IN ONE DAY!!! My jaw dropped. This was too much for me to handle. I immediately ran to my computer and googled emergency snake control. I called the first number on the screen. He told me that he would be over within the hour.
As I anxiously awaited my superman’s arrival I began to panic and dream up these ridiculous situations. I literally sprinted to the door when he showed up. I all but dragged him to the backyard by his hair. He did a quick round of the backyard, checking out all of the good hiding places for snakes. Of course I was safe inside the house behind the door. When he had finished his inspection we went into the living room to POW- WOW. I don’t remember much after he dropped the bomb that I had a snake nest under the willow tree in my backyard. I just remember thinking of burning my house to the ground. Luckily my hero in leather boots had a plan. To be continued……
I’m no different than any other 17 year old girl. I go to school, hang out with my friends, go to the occasional party (where there’s parent supervision of course), and I work. Of course my job isn’t typical of a 17 year old. Most of my friends work in the fast food business, or even at a mall or some kind of clothing store. Now don’t get me wrong, I love food and I love clothes, but I would never want to work there. When people ask me about my job I usually tell them I’m a personal assistant for a private contractor. It’s just easier to say that instead of explaining what I actually do. I have the coolest job ever. It’s never boring, and it gives me the most insane stories to tell!
I’ve done everything from wrestling snakes, to saving baby birds! You get so much knowledge from a job like this. You learn all about problem solving. People always have problems like raccoons stuck in their chimneys, skunks in their window well, or even snakes under their porch! Can you even imagine your surprise if you walked out onto your porch one day to see a three foot long blow snake sitting on your porch?! Well, in my experience, not very many people would be very excited about that. Now you may be thinking, what kind of 17 year old girl finds this kind of job entertaining?
I’ve never been the kind of girl who screams when she sees a spider or a snake. I was the girl who was wrestling around with the guys and looking for snakes to take home for the weekend. Now, you would never classify me as the girl who works as a part time trapper. I wear high heels at least three times a week, I never leave the house without my eyebrows filled in. But after school you can catch me crawling under porches, into attics, and even down chimneys in order to catch invasive wildlife! In fact, my favorite part of the job is helping people restore their homes to the peaceful ways they were before the animals invaded. After all, no one wants to hear bats in the attic, raccoons in the chimney, or skunks under the house! Which is why I get so much joy in helping people solve all of their wildlife problems. After all, it’s just another day in the life for me.
People are always wanting to do their own wildlife removal; they don’t see why they should pay someone else for it and they don’t understand all the work that actually goes into it. We constantly get calls with people prying for information on how to really do it themselves, which is great. We aren’t anti-DIY, but we are pro-safety and a lot of times the safest and most reasonable thing, is to let us handle whatever wildlife problem they’ve got. We aren’t money hungry people – I mean obviously we want to be paid for our work, but if something genuinely isn’t a bid deal we will help you deal with it yourself, but if it is then you can expect us to try and do the work ourselves.
For example, last fall we had a man call us with a raccoon problem, and I have to let you know that raccoons are some of the animals that people most often want to deal with themselves, but are the ones we recommend you just pay a professional to take care of for you. Mother raccoons can be one of the most aggressive and dangerous animals that we handle regularly because they are most often the ones that move into people’s chimneys and attics, they want someplace safe to have their babies. When people who don’t know what they’re doing mess with that, they can cause serious injury to both the animals and sometimes themselves. If you were to throw a mother raccoon out without knowing how to remove the babies (or that there were babies at all), the mother could come back and rip into the house another way, or the babies could starve to death in the home. Not to mention when trying to remove a mother raccoon without the proper tools, she could do some serious damage to a person.
Even our trained professionals, people that have been working with wildlife for years, have difficulties at times. Not last week we had a technician doing raccoon removal from a chimney, and when he put the repellent down the chimney the raccoon went nuclear and shot up the flume to attack him. Luckily, he was experienced and knew how to properly handle the situation to avoid any harm to himself and the mother raccoon, but it’s not likely that any regular homeowner could do the same thing. Let me put it this way, you wouldn’t see LeBron having a hard time during a game and sub yourself in, you would let the professional handle the situation and trust he and his team know what is best.
I have a major rock chuck problem in the field behind my house, and it’s starting to creep up into my back lawn. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were gophers or ground squirrels too, but I know that the rock chuck is for sure because we’ve caught him on the security camera on three separate occasions, running through the yard. There are also large holes dotting the perimeter of our property, and scattered throughout the field. The smaller holes I would attribute to a smaller rodent like gophers or ground squirrels, which is still a problem that I’d like to have solved since there’s nothing quite as irksome as working for years to have beautiful landscaping only to have it ruined by overrated rats.
I know that to an outsider of our situation, taking care of the rock chucks in a field might seem unnecessary or even extreme, but I’m not going to let this situation escalate any further out of my control than it already is. Last month, our best horse had to be put down because of a broken leg. Can you guess how she broke it? If you guessed that she was running and got her foot caught in a large rock chuck hole then you would be the winner. My concern for this rock chuck problem was already heightened because of that, but when last week my daughter sprained her ankle from tripping in one of the holes I drew the line. I will not have my children, animals, or anyone else for that matter, put at risk by something that I could get a handle on if I put the time in.
The issue is that I’m not a good enough shot to wipe the rock chucks out myself, my husband isn’t home early enough to try, and neither of us have any of the necessary licensing to be able to use conobear traps (kill traps). And besides that, I wouldn’t want to set a trap that powerful up in my field with my horses running around; there’s been enough damage as it is. I’m looking for other solutions and someone with the proper paperwork to act on those solutions. I just need to solve this rock chuck problem, and hopefully the gopher/ground squirrel problems, as soon as possible.